Gripping Memoirs

May 10, 2019 | Lynn

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Recently a memoir came across my facebook feed called Educated by Tara Westover that piqued my interest. It's a book that is getting passed around from parent to child, from friend to friend and being recommended everywhere. I finally got my hands on it, and now I understand the hype.

It has a long wait list here at Toronto Public Library, but don't let that prevent you from adding it to your hold list. Without giving too much away, the author is recounting her life growing up in rural Idaho with a father who feared the Government, brainwashing, and who wanted to live completely off the grid. This memoir, and other like it, give the reader a glimpse into another world from the safety of our homes. There are times when reading this book by Tara Westover that I needed to remind myself that these were and are real people, not fictional.

Here are some other memoirs that really get a grip on the reader and don't let go.

The Glass castle 

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

This memoir of a turbulent life spent moving around with an alcoholic father and a mother trying to keep the family together, even when the government wants to step in and remove the children. It portrays a poor family doing their best in tough circumstances.


Angela's Ashes 

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt.

This tragic tale which won a Pulitzer Prize details Frank's early life both in Ireland and in New York. The family must contend with moving across an ocean, the Great Depression, having an ever growing family and living off of mainly bread and tea. This heart aching tale was followed up with 'Tis a memoir 1999.



Night by Elie Wiesel.

This book was first published in 1956 in Yiddish as more than 800 pages. When it was published in French two years later the book was much shorten to just under 200 pages. This book is not without controversy as some call it biographical, others call it fiction, Wiesel called it his deposition. Wiesel survived being in a concentration camp during World War II and this book is his memories of those dark times.


Born a crime: stories from a South African Childhood 

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.

The host of The Daily Show takes us back to South Africa during the Apartheid, during which he was born to a Black mother and a White father. Not all of his stories are funny, but they are told with humour that show a depth to the comedian that people may not be aware of if they  have only seen him doing comedy.

If you have any favourite memoirs please share them in the comments below!